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Associate Researchers

Katharina Schramm

I am an anthropologist by training, currently working at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. My main research interests are in the fields of race, science and technology studies, diaspora and memory. Currently, I am working on a book, tentatively titled The Stones, the Bones and the Genes: Race and Classification in the Sciences of Origin in Post-Apartheid South Africa. After the Berlin Wall came down, I combined my social anthropology studies at the Free University and my African studies at the Humboldt-University. In 1994, I went to Ghana for the first time, starting a long-term association. At first, I wrote my MA-thesis on cultural politics and the aesthetics of national identity in the Ghana Dance Ensemble. My PhD work shifted my interests to the multifold connections between the politics of memory, identity and diaspora in projects commemorating the slave trade and the resulting transatlantic networks in contemporary Ghana (African Homecoming: Pan-Africanism and Contested Heritage, Left Coast Press, 2010). Between 2005 and 2007, I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Graduate School, Societies and Cultures in Motion, at the Martin-Luther-University, where I continued to work on the relation between violence and memory. This resulted in two edited volumes. Remembering Violence: Anthropological Perspectives on Intergenerational Transmission was co-edited with Nicholas Argenti and published with Berghahn Books in 2010; Landscapes of Violence: Memory and Sacred Space was published as a special issue of the journal, History & Memory, in 2011. In 2007, I spent a short time as a research associate at the Institute for Social Anthropology at the University of Chicago, where I began to work on race in the life sciences, and genomics in particular. I was mainly interested in Genetic Ancestry Testing and the claims to identity and citizenship that may be connected to it. In 2012, I co-edited Identity Politics and the New Genetics: Re/creating Categories of Difference and Belonging (with David Skinner and Richard Rottenburg, Berghahn Books). When I first came to South Africa in 2010, I had planned to continue working on race and genomics. I was particularly fascinated by the question how the categories of ‘race’ and ‘population’ that are often employed in the contemporary life-sciences are constructed and perhaps contested in the South African post-apartheid context. However, it soon became clear to me, that the scope of my research had to be expanded to involve the ‘sciences of human origins’ more generally, including physical anthropology, paleoanthropology and archaeology next to genetics. I am interested in the historical genealogies of scientific knowledge and the multifold translations back and forth between science and the public. My ethnographic focus has therefore been on the materiality of scientific objects, such as sample-collections; the conceptualisation of research populations and their responses, mainly with regard to so-called ‘descendant communities’, as well as the practices through which connections are established (publications, conferences, projects etc). In 2011 and 2012, I was a research fellow at the research group, Historicizing Knowledge about Human Biological Diversity in the 20th Century, at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science. Until 2011, I was also an associate of the Max Planck fellow group, Law, Organisation, Science and Technology (LOST) in Africa, at the Max Planck Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology in Halle.